The emergence of web 2.0 has brought with it collaboration on a global scale, which has been a really great thing that has led to sites like Wikipedia, but it also has a dark side: copyright infringement.

One issue with web 2.0 copyright infringement is that most of the offenders do not even realize what they are doing or that it is wrong. The popularity of blogging and the ease at which articles and images can be passed around have made it very simple to inadvertently commit copyright infringement.

Many new bloggers do not even realize that articles and pictures found on the Internet are often protected by copyright. And they often struggle with the proper etiquette for using an article or picture.

Web 2.0 Copyright

The question is: How do we deal with Web 2.0 copyright? Luckily, the social web has an answer for us. Creative Commons is a popular alternative to the “all rights reserved” copyright license that we are all familiar with.

Creative Commons allows the copyright holder to choose from multiple licenses that describe what rights are being offered in very simple language that is easy to understand. The copyright holder can choose to offer rights for any use, or just non-commercial uses, and they can even offer the right to modify the work to suit the needs of those using it.

It’s important to note that Creative Commons is not an alternative to copyright. Those who have chosen to use Creative Commons still own the copyright to their work, they are simply licensing its use through the Creative Commons.

Web 2.0 Etiquette for Using an Article or Picture

While Creative Commons is a great solution, it doesn’t quite solve all of the Web 2.0 copyright issues. Many people still do not understand or use Creative Commons, so finding an article or blog entry licensed under Creative Commons is still not exactly common.

Web 2.0 is all about sharing information, so how do we share information if not everyone is using the Creative Commons? Luckily, there is some basic etiquette guidelines that can be followed.

For articles, only use a small part of the text and then link to the rest of the article. In this way, it falls under “fair use”, and most writers are happy to have the linkback. Using a tool like Clipmarks is also usually okay since it provides a link back to the original article, though some feel that Clipmarks allows too much of the original article to be ‘clipped’.

Also, when possible, use a trackback. Not only does this notify them that you are using something from their entry, but it is also good for your blog because it may drive a little traffic your way.

For images, always check to see what sort of copyright restrictions or Creative Commons license is being used for the image. When in doubt, attribute the image with a link back to the original and let the copyright owner know that you have linked the work so that they can speak up if they have any objections.

Most important of all, if you are contacted by the copyright owner of an article quote or image and they ask for it to be taken down, then by all means, take it down.

How To Find Images For Your Blog

It can sometimes be tough to balance between respecting copyright and making sure that your blog is visually appealing. Many times, just asking for permission to use an image will do the trick. But, there are alternatives to using copyrighted images. You can search for images that are free to use or images that the owner simply wants a link back with proper attribution.

Here are a few places to look for images:

  • Creative Commons Search. In addition to providing an easy way license work, they also have a handy search utility.
  • Wikimedia Commons. Wikimedia has a broad range of images that you can use.
  • Flickr. The search form allows you to search for images licensed through Creative Commons.


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